Transcript: Ep #086 From CPA to Course Creator & Helping 100,000+ Students With Jeff Lenning
Welcome to The OMG! Show, the podcast that helps course creators grow their businesses with profitable paid traffic funnels.
My name is Oscar Garcia, and it’s my mission to help you the course creator, drive more traffic, and convert more customers so that you can have a thriving and sustainable business.
In today’s episode, we’re going to take a look at a successful course creator who made the transition from selling one-off courses into a recurring revenue business that has impacted the lives of over a hundred thousand people and continues to be the number one resource in their market.
Now productizing your knowledge is one of the best ways to scale your business. If you are constantly being asked the same questions over and over again, or have a process that can positively impact the lives of others. There is a good chance that others would be willing to pay you for that expertise in order to improve their own lives.
And that’s why today we are joined by none other than Jeff Lennon, who as a CPA himself was tired of doing the same tasks over and over and decided to use this little tool called Excel to pretty much duplicate his processes. One thing led to another, and now he runs Excel University, which provides online Microsoft Excel training, specifically designed for accounting and finance professionals through their campus pass.
Now, in this episode, we’re going to take a look at how a slice of pizza changed Jeff’s career path, his number one traffic-generating strategy, and how he used automation to pretty much run his business, pretty lean.
Now make sure to stay until the end of the podcast to discover how you can join Marketing and Mojitos, my supportive community of course creators then not only gives you the encouragement, accountability, and resources you need to succeed with your course from anywhere. But we have some pretty cool things brewing, relating to audience building and AI.
Now, with that being said, let’s go ahead and get started.
Oscar Garcia: Jeff Lenning, my man. So I gotta say, when I read your story about how you took this, these two ideas of your like accounting and technology, and then married them together and then created Excel University, which is now probably. I feel I would feel okay to say the number one online resource for Excel education, for anyone that wants to use Excel.
Right. Take me back to that time, like, how did that come to be? Because I know that was probably a big step for you in terms of like, should I be going in this direction? But I love the fact that you were able to productize your knowledge. So how did that come about?
Jeff Lenning: Yeah, so, thanks. And basically what happened is I did a lot of work in accounting and finance, so I have a background as a CPA, so outta college, like my days were filled in Excel spreadsheets, doing accounting and finance stuff. And so I was so obsessed with figuring out how to like, delegate my work to Excel that I just like went all in on Excel.
And so it was like, I looked through every menu item. I looked through every single function, and I just like, absorbed it all. And I got like decent at delegating all my manual steps to Excel.
So then I was like, Hey, I need to be telling people about this and sharing this stuff cuz it’s like life-changing.
So I actually wrote an article, like on my computer and I emailed it to the editor of the Journal of Accountancy.
And like, to my surprise, he’s like, yeah, this is great. let’s print it.
Oscar Garcia: Wow.
Jeff Lenning: I was like, what! Yeah. So. So we printed it and then I was like, this is great. Like, I just want to keep telling people.
So I started doing little classes in the local community, and then I approached the CPA Society for the State I was in.
I’m like, Hey. Can I do an Excel class? And they’re like, yeah, sure.
And so I show up to this first class, it’s like an eight-hour all-day class. So I had to prepare, like the book, I had to do the workbooks, I had to do the PowerPoint, like all that stuff. And I’m just up there in front going, all right, let’s like talk about Excel for eight hours.
And, I was so nervous, but by the time I got like halfway through the day, I was just like really confident and calm because I got to see the reactions from people and really like, oh man, this can really be helpful.
So that’s what really started it. And then I spent like the next 10 years teaching all over the country.
I’ve done like hundreds of live workshops, and then it’s like, as the internet and everything moved online, I was just like, instead of trading like hours for dollars. Let me get ahead of the curve and lemme just pre-record all the lesson videos.
So that took like a while. but now that they’re all set, it’s like instead of saying the same thing over and over in live sessions, they’re all pre-recorded and people just, pay to have access to ’em.
So that’s really basically how it all started.
Oscar Garcia: I mean, it’s pretty cool how, like, you did it as a CPA. Then you took the leap. You sent out an email saying, Hey, I have this idea. What do you think? They decide to print that idea. It goes, and then for the next 10 years, you’re putting on these workshops, you’re teaching others how to use it.
Now, as someone who used to be in the corporate world and has dabbled with Excel, it totally blew my mind when I figured out how to use pivot tables, and vlookups, okay. That, that, that was like a game changer for me. So I’m wondering like in those 10 years when you were talking to people, was there a feature of Excel that stood out that totally blew their mind?
Jeff Lenning: Yeah. You know what is, yes, of course, pivot tables and lookups. Like for sure. that’s like for sure. but really it was almost more the mindset, which is like in accounting and finance, you’re doing the same exact reports every month. It’s the same journal entries, the same reports every month or every week, every day.
you get the idea. And so it was really saying, listen, since we’re doing this, the same thing, instead of rebuilding it every month, let’s just take a workbook, get it completely dialed in. Let me show you the exact features, the exact functions, so that next month you just click like refresh and it’s done.
So it’s like, let’s save you time. Like let’s, I think if I read correctly, you were trying to kind of recreate your process. You were trying to recreate yourself in that Excel spreadsheet, so that way you wouldn’t have to keep doing it manually. You could just, like you mentioned, click a button and boom, it was done.
Oscar Garcia: It’s ready to go,
Jeff Lenning: For sure. And there’s a lot of stuff in Excel that’s like that. So really it’s, it’s not like a workbook is just vlookup and you’re done.
It’s like, there’s like a handful of different things that all have to work together in like this beautiful harmony, to really automate it. But once you get that dialed in Yeah, you’re manual updates are just like super automated and super fast.
Oscar Garcia: Got it. So a, as you were doing all these workshops, at what point were you thinking to yourself like, I should probably stop trading my time for dollars and maybe kind of productize this? Like, did that happen? Did you were just like, did you go cold Turkey and say, okay, I’m done with this. I’m gonna, I’m gonna go ahead and build out a course or, turn this into a product, or did it happen gradually over time
Jeff Lenning: Yeah, for sure. It was a gradual thing. and basically, what it was there was this transition, from live to live webinar, so like live onsite to live webinar. And so as I started going into live webinars, that’s when I was kind of like, you know, you don’t have to be like there in person. And so then the next step actually.
Doing a book. I wanted to just write a book, and so I was going to use one of the workbooks that I had done for the classes and submit that to be published, but I didn’t own the copyright cause I’d given it away to a CPE provider. And so I’m like, Darn. That means I have to like literally write it from scratch.
But that was a huge blessing in disguise because it means I got to rethink the order that I present everything in. So, there’s a very particular order that I present things in so that it builds. And so, so I wrote the book and then I’m like, all right, now let me just teach this book through on-demand videos.
And so that was kind of how that worked.
Oscar Garcia: Wow. Okay. So on-demand videos, like, what year did this happen? do you remember?
Jeff Lenning: I would say that, oh, 93.
Oscar Garcia: 93. Okay. So on-demand video, what was that like in that world? cuz you’re like, you’re talking to someone who was born in 91. Right. So in 93, okay.
Jeff Lenning: I’m tripping. like 10 years ago, so like
Oscar Garcia: so 2013. Got
Jeff Lenning: That’s
Oscar Garcia: Yeah, I was like 93. This is, man, you were beyond.
Jeff Lenning: So when computers were made from wood Yeah, I
Oscar Garcia: what? That’s crazy. Okay. so going back to, 2013, around that time, right? Video on demand, like what? What were you thinking? Because I can’t imagine where it’s like now where it’s so easily accessible to like, find an LMS and upload videos and things of that nature.
Right. So what was that process in terms of figuring out, okay, how am I going to put this, on the internet so that people can access it so I can reach the masses?
Jeff Lenning: Yeah, so that was the kind of two steps.
The first step was as I was writing the book, I wanted to sell my book a lot. So instead of just giving them the text, I also had a download link where they could download the actual files. And then I also wanted to give them a link where they could watch the videos of me solving each of the exercises.
And so I did that like as the first step. And that was all just free. So I just put links on my website and then I’m like, all right, that’s just showing the solutions. But what about actually teaching that through video?
So then that’s when I did all the teaching and I was originally gonna just do it through like a WordPress forum. but that was just, Not working out. And so then I got an LMS and did the whole thing.
Oscar Garcia: Got it. Okay. So I know Excel University now, encompasses a lot of different, education models, but what was the first one? What would you say is like the flagship? I know you talked about the workbook and the videos with that, was it that workbook, was it called something in particular?
And was that essentially the Kickstarter to this entire Excel University idea that you have now?
Jeff Lenning: Yeah, so it was really, that first book became the, kind of the springboard into it because it caused me to rethink the way I teach in which order. So then the workbooks, then the videos, and then putting that into the lms. But, I wasn’t done. There’s a, like Excel is a big place, and so that was like kind of just my first practice.
And so I covered some of the most common features and then I came out with another book and then did the same pattern. Workbooks, videos, volume three, volume four, then all go. Those go in. And then I did two additional masters courses. Masters one and two. And so then it’s Excel University, right?
So that there’s four undergraduate things and then two masters. So it all kind of fits like with that whole theme.
Oscar Garcia: That’s pretty cool. Now, I know you mentioned like volume one, volume two. Were these just updates or were these completely like built from the ground up and if they were built from the ground up, were they built, like how were they built? Were they u were they created with like user feedback in terms of like, Hey, how do I do this?
Hey, how do I do that? And you inputting that, or what was that process like?
Jeff Lenning: Yeah, so that was, they’re not updates. They’re, I really think of them as one gigantic course, but that just, I had to release ’em one at a time to kind of break ’em down to the more manageable, chunks. but to me they are one. One thing cuz they all go in order. So in order to teach you pivot tables, I can’t really do that till I teach you a couple of other things and I can’t teach those things till I teach a couple of other things.
So I basically had everything that I wanted to teach and then I have this huge, I should release it someday, but it’s this massive workbook that shows all the dependencies. To, so I can map what I have to teach first and second and third and so on. So I set all that stuff up first, and then I just went through and taught ’em and broke ’em down into the, to the smaller chunks.
Oscar Garcia: Oh, pretty cool. So that’s kind of where the, if I’m following correctly, is that where like the undergraduate and the, I guess upperclassmen would, you would call for the university comes into play.
Jeff Lenning: Exactly. Right. Exactly. So, yeah, it’s just in a, it’s in a continuous order and. Yeah. So it’s kind of like the basics and then you know, functions and formulas, and then pivot tables, and then kind of miscellaneous other.
Oscar Garcia: Got it. So now let’s kind of talk about your funnel or your process for bringing in customers. And I know that like, when you were at usc you were attracted a free pizza, right? Free pizza is what got you into the group. So it’s like, what’s your version of free pizza?
How do you get people into Excel University?
Jeff Lenning: That was smooth. Dude. That’s so good. Um, yeah, so I have, a ton of different, we’ll just call them lead magnets, right? And so it’s a ton of free stuff in exchange for signing up into my email list. and so, Some, some of the lead magnets are just gonna be like free webinars, downloads, PDFs, training stuff, skills survey, like all these different kind of entry points.
And then once I have you opted in to my email system, I happen to use active campaign, then you go through this. This funnel process. and I’ll kind of just go over the summary of it, but feel free to dig into any details. But basically there’s, once you sign up, there’s three weeks of a warm nurture sequence, which is like no selling or very light selling.
and what it is, five emails just to introduce Xcel University, me, the background, all that kind of stuff. And then there’s a couple of weeks. Pure content videos and they aren’t, excel like skills videos. They’re more the benefits of spending the time to learn Excel. So you could call ’em like mindset videos, but it’s more like, this is my story.
This is what helped me. this is why I, teaching Excel or why learning Excel can have such a big impact. So they’re more like around,
Oscar Garcia: And then there’s an invite to a free webinar. Again, really lowkey. And then the funnel shifts to these alternating, I’ll call ’em, offer sequences. And so they basically look like this.
Jeff Lenning: You’re gonna get, let’s just call it eight newsletters, which are pure content. So it’s Excel tips, XL videos. Okay. That kind of stuff. No selling. And then you’re gonna get. An offer of some sort, we’ll call it offer number one, and then you’re gonna get three pure content, newsletters, and then you’re gonna get an offer.
And so you just keep alternating like that over time. And then once you buy, active campaign will take you out of the offer loops and just then you’re just in the Pure newsletter, sequence after.
Oscar Garcia: Okay. I love it. So your funnel is pretty much heavily reliant on email autoresponders, right? So it’s kind of, they’re coming from a lead magnet, which by the way, is there, I know you mentioned you have a lot of different lead magnets that, that are out there, but would you say like there’s one in particular that’s like your number one that’s most attractive in terms of feeding people into your system?
Jeff Lenning: I should look at that more carefully. I would say that the number one is gonna be the webinars.
Oscar Garcia: The webinars. Okay. And in those webinars, at the end of those webinars, I’m assuming it’s mostly content and at the end, are you making the introduction for Excel University? Is that how that works?
Jeff Lenning: Yep. So the webinar, the general format for the lead magnet webinars are pure content with just a. Mini little soft and subtle invitation. Hey, if you liked what you learned and you’d like to continue training with me, like, here’s an introduction to the classes. And then so, so really it’s used not for selling really as much just to bring people to active campaign.
Oscar Garcia: Got it. Now, one question I’d love to ask people that run webinars, since it’s a replay, are you giving the people the ability to kind of scroll through the webinar at their own pace, or do they have to watch it, according to your parameters?
Jeff Lenning: So I have a couple of different webinars and they’re set up differently, but in general, The way that I’ll do it is on the registration page, you pick a time and date that works with your schedule, but then there is also a watch yesterday’s or the on-demand version, like right now.
And so if they watch one that’s a scheduled time, then there’s no scrubbing or no controls. and so they go through it. but then if they pick the on-demand version, then they have those.
Oscar Garcia: Oh, that’s pretty cool cuz it, it’s more of an approach of like you’re meeting them at where they’re at. If they sign up for the live webinar, then they have to watch it as the presentation was intended. But if they sign in video and demand style, Here it is. Feel free to scroll through.
Okay. So then they get onto your email list. They go through, if I remember correctly, about seven days worth of like just pure content to introduce themselves.
But then afterwards, it’s mostly two weeks of transformational emails that would call them when you’re talking about the benefits of like, Hey, no one really likes Excel, but we use X Excel because of X, Y, and Z.
All the really cool stuff that it allows you to have to do and to focus on and save time. And then after that, we then get into kind of more. You mentioned the, your active campaign system segments your list into two different offers. Now, I’m assuming this all runs by itself, right? There’s no one in the back kind of just manually doing this for anybody.
Jeff Lenning: Correct. It’s all completely automated.
Oscar Garcia: Got it. Okay. And do you know like your conversion rates in terms of like how many people come into you, your email list and how well this three to four week email autoresponder is doing?
Jeff Lenning: Yes, absolutely. So for the webinars, the, conversion rate for that little like intro or invitation to keep training, that usually hits at around 4% of people who buy like immediately, but then over time it’s 10%. So 10% of the people that get onto my list at some point usually buy.
Now, honestly, it could take two or three years.
Oscar Garcia: Yeah.
Jeff Lenning: So that’s why I’m just really most interested in getting you into active campaign and then giving you all kinds of, free tips. Cuz really I have to prove two things really.
I have to prove that paying for training is better than learning on Google and YouTube.
And I have to prove that Excel is such a big place that when you dig into the details, it can change your work life.
And so that stuff just takes time to prove out to people. And so that’s why you’ll see two to three years of people being on my list before they opt in to, to, to take my formal.
Oscar Garcia: Got it. Now, after they go through your autoresponder and they’re, I guess now segmented into your newsletter, are you sending that newsletter once a week? Once a day? What’s the frequency on that?
Jeff Lenning: Yeah, so the newsletters are weekly, one per week, and so the newsletter will include generally, A, a blog post, it’ll include a video. It’ll include, maybe a student testimonial kind of a thing, a motivational quote,and kind of stuff like that. So it’s like, four or five different kind of things in the newsletter.
Oscar Garcia: Got it. Did you ever get any reply saying this newsletter was awesome?
Jeff Lenning: Honestly, the only numbers I look at really are the unsubscribed, which isn’t the right thing to do. But yeah, we get some good feedback on the newsletters for
Oscar Garcia: there we go. yeah. Okay, good. okay, so talk to me now about like, the price point, right? So like, if they’re coming in on the webinar, what is the price point that they’re seeing on the webinar in order to kind of get that 4% conversion, on the front end there?
Jeff Lenning: Yeah, so basically, at the end of the free webinar, There is a it leads them into a free trial,
Oscar Garcia: is seven days, and then that trial automatically converts to the annual subscription. So let’s just back up a second for my signature program, which is called our Campus Pass. We sell it as a monthly subscription in an annual subscription.
Jeff Lenning: And the reason I did monthly subscription is because before I did this subscription, I sold everything as a one year class or one year enrollment.
Oscar Garcia: And so people would get to the end of the year and be like, I need more time. And then also people would crank through after like two months and not need it or reference it after that.
Jeff Lenning: So I’m like, let’s just let everyone pick and choose their own enrollment period and whatever they want. So that’s when I came out with the monthly. That way if someone just wants to crank through everything in three months, fine. If they want to spend two years, fine. Like it. It’s just more flexible for everybody.
Oscar Garcia: Yeah. And I love that you made that transition because it started off as like here it is, we’ll call it like a cohort, right? Like here’s a one year cohort. So for other course creators that are listening, it’s what’s your access period to this .Material? And like you’re exactly right.
Some people will just smash through it within a month or two and then just be like, okay, well I’m done. Others will take a year, they’ll take longer. They might never implement however, You went from selling like the one year access to then let’s do monthly. did you see your business, spike or decline when you made that transition to monthly?
Jeff Lenning: Yeah, I was a little nervous about it because I went from a, $500 price point to a, a monthly price point. And so I was not sure how that would go, but it actually completely changed my whole business. Like for the better. Like it was a big improvement. It was an improvement for the students cuz they now have more control.
And it was an improvement for me because the old model was live launch, lots of sales. Nothing.
Live, launch, nothing. So by putting everybody on this flat thing, then, January is typically a small month for me because a lot of my audience, so it’s CPA’s accounting, they’re all in, like their busy season.
It’s actually like January, February, March is pretty quiet. But now you’ve got this base of subscriptions and so it’s a lot better for them and for me.
Oscar Garcia: Yeah. So it’s like the business before was, had a lot of peaks and valleys, and now it’s kind of more of a consistent,it’s more reliable, I would say, when you have that kind of steady income coming in, right, you don’t have to, okay, we gotta do another launch. Let’s go ahead and get ready for that.
Jeff Lenning: and not only the, it’s more reliable and more steady. It’s also like, less stressful. It’s just more calm for everybody because when you’re doing these live launches, you’re creating all this new content and there’s tons of system integration and everything has to be perfect. The links have to be perfect, the automate, and so you should see the spreadsheet.
I have to just do a live launch. There’s like a hundred items that have to get perfectly dialed in. So once you create it and it’s just kind of evergreen, it’s a lot less stress.
Oscar Garcia: A hundred percent. Were you tracking lifetime value of customer prior to this change in terms of the subscription model, and did you notice that fluctuate at all?
Jeff Lenning: No, I didn’t really track it. And the billing system that I have now used to track lifetime value very well, and then they made an upgrade, but it kind of, Messed up that calculation. So I don’t know what it is now. but I would guess that it’s better now because they’re just on this kind of monthly subscription.
I mean, generally, but yeah, people do come in and get it done in one month and cancel and that’s totally fine. But, just depends.
Oscar Garcia: yeah. Cuz I, I’ve seen, and I just wanted to get your take on that because I know when, for example, like, let’s say you had like a $500 offer, but then you decide. Do a monthly subscription for $300 for three for 30 bucks a month. Right. The lifetime value on the front end takes a hit for sure. But then you kind of recoup that when it comes to volume, cuz then more people are willing to jump in, So. Okay. so now let’s talk about traffic, cuz now I’m curious in terms of like how you’re getting people, to jump into your webinar and go through your autoresponder, what’s your number one traffic generator at the moment?
Jeff Lenning: I would have to say that the number one source is through webinar partners that I, pay for leads, basically.
And so those would be different companies that have lists of my target audience and they host the webinar, they get the registrations, and then at the end they’ll gimme the list and I pay for those leads. And so then I bring ’em into active campaign that way. So I would say that’s the number one, because one webinar when they do it is three to 600 new contacts, like, instant.
Oscar Garcia: That’s such a smart way to do it. I’m so glad you brought that up, because most people, they think of traffic as like organic and paid. And so this is a form of paid traffic. And when most people think of paid traffic, they think of Facebook ads or Google ads or YouTube ads, right? But it’s like, JV partnerships where you get access to the lists.
That right there, you cut out a lot of the expenses, a lot of the figuring out you get access directly to the people that you need access to.
Jeff Lenning: 100% and I’ve done, I’ve paid ads and all the socials and the numbers don’t really seem to work out for me. In other words, I haven’t cracked the ROI formula for paid social. And I’m sure, other people have, but just for me, I haven’t. But this one for sure works.
Oscar Garcia: Got it. Now, did you find these partnerships yourself? Did you go through a broker? could you share some light into that in terms for someone who may not even be exposed to this kind of idea, like how could they get started on this path
Jeff Lenning: Yeah. how did we make the, I think I was contacted. Yeah.
Oscar Garcia: made it easy?
Jeff Lenning: Yeah, made it easy. That was just a, such a long time ago, but I also sought, I did search, basically what you’re looking for is, someone who has the audience and then you pay them to send out the email or contact them. So one, one company I work with, does the webinar format.
Another company that I work with, they have like a list of 200,000 of my target audience. So like CPA’s, accounting, finance. And so I will pay him to send out an invitation to my free webinar, and then he blast it out to 200,000 people and then that week we get, whatever we get. and so I’ve been working with that company for years also.
So that’s really the key is, and here’s the other key, if you’re looking for it.
We have to emails going out to the invites. If it’s more like you’re paying for a banner ad or something passive to me, I haven’t been able to make that work. But when you’re sending the newsletter out, that’s really what gets their attention.
Oscar Garcia: Mm, very, very important. footnote there to, to make that distinction. how do those conversations typically go?
Is there anything you’re particularly looking for when it comes to a partnership?
Is it just list size that you’re, that you only care about? Or are you also looking at some other metrics?
Like if, I don’t know, if, I don’t know if they’re willing to provide you with like, click through rate or, what the actual value of the list is, but are there any indicators that you look for in terms of saying, okay, you know what, this is a good decision to partner.
Jeff Lenning: Yeah, for sure. So what I look for is, cost per lead. So sometimes it just takes some, working with them to get that number, but it’s, I’m gonna put out, what, 1200 bucks for you to send your blast out. So then I’m gonna monitor, cuz I have ways to track, what codes they’re using. how many leads do I get for that?
And if I can get leads into my active campaign for zero to, let’s say five bucks a lead. I know that over time that’s profitable because remember, I have a 10% conversion rate overall, so it might take some time, but overall it’s 10%. So then it’s just easy math. It’s what? How much are they gonna spend when they buy something divided by And you just do the math?
Oscar Garcia: Yeah, I know, I love that you just said it’s literally a math problem, cuz that’s something that I always preach. It’s like, we need to figure out your conversion rates. And then from there we can reverse engineer the numbers to figure out, okay, what is the cost per lead? How many people do we need?
How much can we spend? What the ROI is gonna be? And then it’s literally just, making sure you’re hitting those numbers. And that’s kind of what it comes down to running the business. Right.
Jeff Lenning: For sure. then here’s the other little detail that, the way that I think about it in my mind is, remember how I said at the end of that initial lead magnet webinar, there’s a subtle invite to continue training.
Oscar Garcia: So to me, if I can get 4% of the people on that first webinar to buy immediately, then I can kind of almost cover that initial cost.
Jeff Lenning: So then the other 96% are free leads in my mind, because now they’re just sitting in my active campaign getting nurtured.
So my ultimate goal is whatever I pay out, I’m going to get back or close to it with that first email, that first webinar with the invite. And then the rest is free leads.
Oscar Garcia: super smart cuz it’s like you’re building your list for free if not at profit, you know? So it’s kind of like, who, who’s gonna say no to that? Hey, let me pay you to get customer. so, I don’t think we talked about it, but like on the webinar though, I know you mentioned that you make a trial, it’s a seven day trial, and then do they automatically get rolled into the full price of the, the membership program or how does that work?
Jeff Lenning: Yeah, so the way I structure the trial is a credit card required.
Oscar Garcia: And so that kind of just filters out people who are really just there to get seven days worth of free trial or free training, or if they’re really like, assuming this is looks good. Yeah, I would like to continue with the trial.
Jeff Lenning: So credit card required.
And then there’s an onboarding sequence and then on day seven, then it automatically converts you. It’s easy to cancel and I send out emails for how to cancel and it’s just literally in the LMS, it’s. Administration cancel. So I don’t hide anything. I don’t make it hard to cancel.
I, I actually want people to be able to cancel on their own. A, because I don’t like it when I sign up for something and I can’t find where to cancel. It’s super annoying, but also it just makes me sad when someone cancel. So I don’t even want to know about it. I just want ’em to be able to cancel on their own.
A hundred percent. And so that, that first bill that goes through, they’re getting access to essentially the undergraduate classes, or is it everything already? So it’s everything. So I’ll tell you what it is. It’s Remember how I said I built six courses, so it took like a year per course, so six years. Then, I was, while they were being developed, I sold them individually as standalone courses and they’re still available that way. But the Campus Pass, which is my signature program, includes like all of that stuff.
And then to enhance it, I also add a bunch of live stuff. So it’s gonna be live office hours, live study halls, and live new student orientations. So the day they sign up, they’re gonna get an email from, From a team member saying, Hey, I see you’re new here. We have a weekly zoom call for new students.
I’d love to have you on and answer any questions. So that’s one thing. And then the study halls are run by my TAs. So these are gonna be like students or former students and they do the study halls. And study halls are live over Zoom. They’re designed to help people with the actual coursework.
Oscar Garcia: And then I do office hours over Zoom, and that’s where I teach like a little short mini lesson. some new thing in Excel comes out, like that’s not in the on demand. Do I give ’em a little mini lesson and then it’s open q and a. But what’s really cool about it is it’s not just open q and a on the coursework.
Jeff Lenning: It’s open q and a. You got a workbook you’re working on? Share your screen and I’ll help you with the formulas. It’s like that.
Oscar Garcia: Oh, that’s pretty cool. Oh, so tremendous value there. Perfect. how many students would you say you, you’ve helped thus far in, like, in the past 10 years, going through Excel University,
Jeff Lenning: Like a couple of hundred thousand. Ithat’s just in all the different, sort of
Oscar Garcia: right? Different avenues of Yeah,
Jeff Lenning: yes. But yeah, a couple hundred thousand. And it’s crazy to think about that too. Cause I was like, Like, if I wanted to bring everyone to a baseball game, like how many tickets would I need? Buy, it’s like not, they can’t even fit in one baseball stadium.
It’s like multiple stadiums.
Oscar Garcia: out, man. Sold out, All right, so now let’s talk about your team. Cause I know you mentioned ta, so I’m curious to see like behind the scenes, like how many people are helping you run your business at the moment? Is it just you, I know you mentioned TAs, like, you know what? What does the behind the scenes look like to kind of make this whole thing operate smooth?
Jeff Lenning: Yeah. Cool. So it’s, it’s part-time. And so our student success, coordinator, she does all of the like, So we use Help Scout for our email, support system. But so she does all the help scouts. That’s all the emailing, it’s all the voucher codes. It’s all, I lost my password. She helps on some marketing ideas and,and kind of things like that.
Then I have, a part-time team member who is handling all social media stuff,and then kind of the tech people who are doing website and that kind of stuff. And then, and then, yeah, the TAs, and they’re running those live study halls?
Oscar Garcia: So in terms of a number, would this, would it be safe to say like 10 people on your team? Kind of overall? Would it be more than that?
Jeff Lenning: No, it’s probably 1, 2, 3, 5, I would say. Five or six.
Oscar Garcia: pretty lean. I like it. That’s
Jeff Lenning: Yeah. Lean.
Oscar Garcia: Lean. Good.
Jeff Lenning: I make the computers do the work whenever possible,
Oscar Garcia: That’s right, man. That’s right. Okay. And now let’s talk about tech, which I know is probably someone’s like biggest question. It’s like, okay, this all sounds good. This is super cool. How do we make this work? And I know you’ve already used Active Campaign, but like, you know what, I know you mentioned LMS earlier, but is it is you’re running your business off WordPress, how, what are you using for your checkout?
how is all this delivered and running efficiently so that way you can run a pretty lean team.
Jeff Lenning: Yeah, so I would say that the. I’ll go through each of those tech things, but Zapier is the key because then I can get best in class on all the little things that I want and not have to worry about getting one thing that handles everything. So I picked the best in class systems, and then I time ’em all together with Zapier.
So for email, it’s active campaign. So all my lead magnets come in through ActiveCampaign. And then it’s all completely automated from there on out.
For my LMS, it’s OpenLMS, which is basically a paid, hosted Moodle installation, if you’re familiar with that. But plus they have some additional things that help with the automation that is not available in the base level of Moodle.
the cart is a, it’s called, Course Merchant and they’re a phenomenal company and they basically provide the shopping cart that integrates with the LMS, automatically. So when you are on the shopping cart, you can buy a product, it handles all the checkout, and then it actually sets up the username and password and then also assigns the courses in the LMS for.
for the period that you Yes, exactly. Exactly. and it’s cool cause I can do bundling and stuff. So if you buy one product, it maybe gives you five different courses within the lms. and then zap your for tying it all together. and then just different things. So the WordPress is just the website and I use it just for the blog post on the website.
I use Airtable in the background to store things in the cloud for. Different Zapier automations and things like that, but I think that’s the most of it.
Oscar Garcia: Where do you, where do you host your video?
Jeff Lenning: Oh yeah. Vimeo.
Oscar Garcia: Vimeo. Okay, got it. Got it. A lot of people choose like it’s either AWS or Vimeo or something else like that, but okay. Good to know. Wow, Jeff, I gotta say, man, this is super cool. I really appreciate you taking the time to kind of give us an insight into how you run Excel University and the fact that.
you went from free pizza at on campus to now helping over a hundred thousand, CPAs and other just people that want to use Excel. it’s pretty cool that you gave us an insight look into how to run the business, especially because you were able to productize your knowledge and now create a community that helps.
So many more people, which then I’m sure they’ve become more productive, they’ve helped their businesses, et cetera, et cetera. So I really appreciate the fact that you came on and, thank you so much man. And, how can we get a hold of you? And last but not least, what’s in store for Excel University?
What kind of growth, plans do you guys have for the next year or so?
Jeff Lenning: Yeah, so basically, I’m at the point where, it took a while to build the courses and so that’s where my energy was. And selling was kind of just on the side. And once the courses were done, then I tried to learn how to do marketing. It does not come naturally for me, like I’m more of an Excel geek.
So, That came very naturally, setting the courses up, but then trying to figure out how to market them and show sort of the benefits, that was hard. So I focused on that. and I feel a lot more comfortable with that now, but my main goal is to, Open up the top of my funnel. So we’re exploring other ways to bring people in besides the lead magnets we have now.
So bring in more people top of funnel cuz it’s all automated from there out. So that’s kind of 2023. And then I’m gonna look at adding, additional courses that would be in the campus pass to increase the value of the campus pass. So it wouldn’t be things that are. Excel, it are things that are like tangent to Excel,that an Excel person would be interested in that kind of interop operate with Excel, but that aren’t Excel.
So that’s kind of the next phase of the classes.
Oscar Garcia: really cool. And EC Excel University, that’s the best place to get ahold of you to learn all about the different, course offerings that you have and everything else. Correct.
Jeff Lenning: For sure. And I would say,if anyone listening wants to kind of just observe like what my nurture sequence is, they’re happy to just subscribe and they can just kind of sit and observe. I tell you, I do that with a lot of different. Online course creators, I just sign up for their list and kind of watch what they’re doing, and it’s been very helpful, so feel free to do that as well.
Oscar Garcia: 100%. I’ll vouch that. I still like, I’m a paid traffic guy, so I’m really into numbers and to this day I still download and I upload into Excel and I have my tracking sheets and it’s like, yeah, it’s a, it’s kind of a bear to figure out, but once you figure it out, like we talked about it in the beginning, you just click a button and you hit refresh.
And it’s amazing what can happen. So thank you again, Jeff, for taking on, taking us on this wild ride of yours and we wish you nothing but the best and good luck in 2023 and beyond, man.
Jeff Lenning: Awesome. Thanks Oscar.
Oscar Garcia: No problem.
So there you have it. Jeff just broke down the entire process for running Excel university. It’s so refreshing to hear about others who have successfully been able to leverage their knowledge for income. And the fact that he’s been going strong. For 10 plus years as a Testament to his commitment to helping others. And I’m super appreciative of the fact that he came here and gave us an inside look.
Now, one of the more important aspects of getting your business off the ground and even scaling it is making sure that you have an audience. One of the best ways of doing that is by leveraging Facebook ads. And no, I’m not talking about sending leads to a landing page for a freebie. But what I am talking about is warming up cold traffic through a very targeted piece of content.
It’s my favorite way of doing it. And it’s what I recommend. Others to do. And if you’re interested, I have an entire course that breaks this all down for free. Just sit on over to www dot Oscar M Garcia Ford slash beta. To sign up for marketing and mojitos, or you can click the link available in the show notes.
And you’ll get instant access to it. Thank you so much for listening to today’s episode of the OMG show, enjoy the rest of the day and make sure to tune in to the next one.